La Liga powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona both have injury worries up front ahead of this weekend’s round of fixtures.
Tito Vilanova’s Barcelona welcome Real Zaragoza to the Camp Nou with an eight-point lead over third-placed Real, who take on Atletic Bilbao, but will do so with star strikers on the sidelines.
Chilean Alexis Sanchez could be out for four weeks with a foot injury he sustained on international duty during the week while Argentine Gonzalo Higuain (thigh) is unlikely to recover for Real.
The loss of Sanchez leaves Tito Vilanova with David Villa as the only out-and-out striker in his squad.
That the league leaders often operate with a ‘false nine’ will offset the loss of Sanchez somewhat.
Jose Mourinho can call upon Karim Benzema again to fill the void left by Higuain with the Frenchman expected to come up from a knock he suffered against Real Zaragoza nearly two weeks ago.
In their last league game, Real ground out a 2-1 win at Levante on a waterlogged pitch with 20-year-old striker Alvaro Morata scoring his first goal for the club.
That leaves them still eight points behind Barcelona in the title chase and five behind Atletico Madrid.
Diego Simeone’s side are only three points behind pace-setters Barca having lost only one of their opening 11 fixtures.
Sunday’s trip to 15th-placed Granada almost certainly poses another three-pointer for Atletico.
Having safely negotiated the Champions League group stage, Malaga refocus their attention to La Liga away to Osasuna in a bid to move up from fifth.
On Saturday, Valencia take on second-bottom Espanyol while Deportivo La Coruna welcome Levante in the early Sunday fixture.
Later on, Celta de Vigo tackle Mallorca, who are trying to avoid a seventh straight loss in the league.
Getafe welcome Real Valladolid, Sevilla host fourth-placed Real Betis and Real Sociedad are at home to Rayo Vallecano.
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